Kalinga Institute of Social Science, Bhubaneswar

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In brief

The Times of India, Jun 01 2016

Dhananjay Mahapatra

Mostly drawn from backward districts of Odisha, more than 25,000 children from 62 impoverished tribal communities are getting a kiss of life, education and opportunity at no cost to their parents at the residential Kalinga Institute of Social Science (KISS) in Bhubaneswar. KISS was started in 1992 with just 12 tribal students by Achyuta Samanta, who at the age of four in 1973 lost his father and saw his mother and eldest brother sweat it out to feed a family of seven.

He did not take the easy option of a begging bowl then. In 1992 too, he did not run to the government for financial assistance like most NGOs.

He had a unique experiment in mind. Over the last quarter of a century , he has executed it with finesse.

Samanta started the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), which today enrols over 25,000 students. Ten per cent of the fee paid by KIIT students goes for managing the 25,000 KISS students. All employees, including faculty , contribute 3% of their salary for KISS, which runs up a daily expense bill of over Rs 50 lakh.

The completely mechanised and carbon footprint-conscious KISS kitchen is an eyeopener. Every day , it consumes 7,500 kg of rice, 2,200 kg of dal, 7,200 kg of vegetables and potato, 25,000 eggs, 2,800 kg of chicken and 600 kg of fish to provide lunch and dinner to 25,000 children. The breakfast is mostly pounded rice, cornflakes, curd and milk.

The kitchen uses solar power and recycles the waste as fertiliser for its gardens. It recycles treated water, used for was hing hands and utensils, as well as water that flows out of bathrooms, to irrigate its plants.

The children take time to overcome the cultural gap they experience in the state capital after travelling miles from their remote tribal hamlets. But good food, proper environment, coaching and opportunity makes them shed their inhibitions and unveil their potential.

One such example, the rugby team comprising tribal children, defeated teams from Zambia, Romania, Switzerland and Kenya before beating South Africa in the final to clinch the Under-14 World Rugby championships in 2007.

Many have excelled in different fields. But their potential in sports remains the bright spot.

Manjula, a girl from the `Lanji Saura' tribe, has played netball up to Commonwealth Games level, while a `Sabara' tribe girl, Bhagyashree, is the pride of KISS having represented India at the Asian Games six years ago in China.It is a story of getting inspired to inspire others. Samanta is modest about his single-handed contribution to society , specially the poor and underprivileged tribals. He remembers his difficult days as a child and the 1990s when he was giving shape to KIIT and KISS literally brick by brick.

“Many large-hearted persons extended help to me in my childhood and those initial difficult days of KISS. I am just contributing back to society. It gives me immense inner satisfaction to find so many children from tribal households getting proper education and motivation to be able to open the windows of opportunity all by themselves. What delights me most is that many of these children after completing their education from KISS or KIIT are going back to their villages to spread education,“ Samanta told.

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